How To Avoid & Beat Residential Permit Parking Tickets



I walked out of a parking ticket hearing today, smiling gleefully while firmly gripping the paperwork dismissing the ticket I received for parking in a residential permit parking zone back in May. It’s a happiness that needs to be shared by showing other drivers the best way to avoid and/or beat these tickets.

Residential permit parking zones restrict drivers from parking on a great percentage of Chicago streets.

The original concept for the restrictions was to make sure residents living near hospitals, CTA or Metra train stops or schools, were able to park in front or near of their homes without having to compete for spaces with visitors.

But the number of RPP zones have exploded over the past twenty years making it more difficult every year for motorists to find free parking on residential streets.

But parking tickets for RPP violations are pretty easy to avoid and not very hard to beat if you get one.

The first rule is to avoid parking in RPP zones–unless you’re visiting someone living in the zone.

Residents living in that zone should be armed with guest passes which allow visitors to legally park on a street with RPP restrictions.

When you first park your vehicle, throw the hazard lights on to alert any ticket writers prowling the area that your vehicle won’t be there long and/or you’re acquiring a guest pass.

After you get the pass, just follow the instructions carefully when filling out the form. If you someone make a mistake, don’t cross out the mistake and write in the correct info. That’s because ticket writers will suspect the motorist is trying to re-use the guest pass and will most likely issue a ticket. Instead, throw out the guest pass and fill out a new one.

If you happen to get a ticket, don’t sweat it, just fight it by using the municipal code against the city.

You see, there’s a built in defense written into the municipal code.

Vehicles are allowed to park for up to 15 minutes in an RPP zone as long as their hazards are flashing.

Specifically, the code for 9-64-090 (d) reads, “In addition, a vehicle not in these categories may park legally for up to 15 minutes in a 24 hour period in a residential parking permit zone if its hazard indicator lights are flashing.”

Drivers contesting this type of ticket must point out this exception in the law. It would help to read the law verbatim into the record at an in-person hearing or cite in a letter contesting the ticket because shockingly, many administrative law judges are unfamiliar with this specific defense.

If an ALJ doesn’t believe the language doesn’t exist, encourage them to check the city’s municipal code themselves.

But a motorist must also testify their vehicle was only in the zone for 15 minutes or less (per city code).

It would help bolster your defense if you can produced a receipt verifying the window of time you were there or if you have a notarized letter from a friend backing up your story. A notarized letter serves as sworn testimony when used in your defense and is considered strong evidence by most ALJ’s.

If you park smart and fight tickets using the law, your chances for getting or actually paying a parking ticket will be very low.

10 Responses to How To Avoid & Beat Residential Permit Parking Tickets

  1. Jeff says:

    Awesome advice Geek! This is why you are an invaluable resource for drivers dealing with the scourge of parking tickets.

  2. .Q says:

    The other way to avoid residential parking restrictions is to drive a motorcycle.

  3. Jeff says:


    According to the city’s website:

    “Motorcycles and scooters, however,Generally, residential parking zones limit parking to
    residents and their guests. Cars, trucks, and similar vehicles must display a residential parking permit or visitor permit. Motorcycles and scooters, however, may park in residential parking zones without displaying a permanent or visitor residential parking permit.”

    However, note that motorcycles must still park perpendicular to the curb:

    “While cars and trucks are required to park parallel to the curb, motorcycles and scooters must be parked perpendicular, or at a 90 degree angle, to the curb.

    Larger motorcycles, however, may park at an angle as close as possible to 90 degrees so that the motorcycle does not extend into the roadway.

    Like the owners of cars and other vehicles, motorcycle and scooter owners are subject to a fine of $25 if they do not park as required.”

  4. Drew says:

    I’d point out that the language on Residential Permit Zones is having the MCY/scooter exemption removed.

    There are Areas in the City where these out of towner Cyclists and in Towner Cyclists will go to extra-ordinary lengths to avoid main street parking.

  5. Drew says:

    Ok…I can’t type today.

    Forgot the part ” is being considered.”

    Was a long day

  6. Jeff says:


    At least some ticket writers seem to be unclear on the current status of motorbikes and permit rules:

  7. Drew says:


    I just spent 5 minutes reading the Residential Permit Ordinances line by line JUST to make sure.

    As of the Last ordinance amendment (7-30-14) there is no language in the ordinance that exempts Motorcycles..

    While this City Webpage does state the motorcycles and scooters are not required to display a RP…due to the lack of specific language, I’d never park a MCY plated vehicle on an RP street because as near as I can tell, while you can’t be ticketed for the RP requirement, you could be ticketed for a Time Restriction.

  8. Jeff says:


    Seems like there must be somewhere in the Code that explains this webpage statement,

  9. Jeff says:


    The geek had an earlier pot on this issue that read as follows:


    I was reading that brochure the city released about parking motorcycles and scooters in Chicago, and it mentions that they can be parked in residential parking permit zones without a permit.

    Out of curiosity I checked the parking statute for the Residential Permit Parking (RPP) zones and it makes no mention of motorcycles being excluded from those regulations.

    Is this a sort of “unwritten rule” because they haven’t implemented a way to affix permits to motorcycles and scooters?

    Also, since I am not a resident of Chicago I’m worried that I still might get a ticket for not having a city sticker (or emblem in this case) while parking my motorcycle in a RPP zone downtown. Any help would be appreciated!



    Good for you for checking the Chicago municipal code on this Scott.


    I’ve never checked the muni code, (but will) but it’s always been my understanding that motorcycles and scooters WERE exempt from RPP restrictions.

    Not only had I read the same brochure you had, but I’ve discussed this same issue with Patrick Jones, the President of Chicago ABATE, the motorcycle rights organization, about this issue a few times.

    The way Jones has explained it to me is, after many meetings with the Dept. of Revenue’s Matt Darst (who recently left the DOR), ABATE came to an understanding with DOR that motorcycles and scooters are exempt from RPP violations and are free to park in any RPP zone without worry of being ticketed.

    In fact, motorcycle drivers that HAVE been ticketed usually get a letter a week or two after their ticket telling them there was a screw up and the ticket was “non-suited” or in other words, thrown out.

    The ABATE website even has a page dedicated to explaining this issue.

    So, I wouldn’t sweat it Scott.

    If you get a ticket and it’s not non-suited by the city, you can use the city’s brochure as evidence and you would most likely win.

    The Geek

  10. pkdickman says:

    The problem lies it the part of the code that instructs the clerk to issue stickers.

    It instructs them that they shall issue them for use on each “CAR” owned and registered within any residential parking permit zone.

    Simple use of the term “motor vehicle” instead of car would allow them to issue them to motorcycles.

    Reilly tried to change the wording several years ago, but the amendment went nowhere.

    As it is, since they cannot get one, the only reasonable choice is to exempt them

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